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Initiative Campaigns: Direct Democracy and Voter Mobilization
American politics research (2009)
  • Caroline J. Tolbert, University of Iowa
  • Daniel C. Bowen
  • Todd Donovan
Previous research has found that the campaigns of candidates running for office provide information to voters and can increase turnout. Scholarly research has also found that states with initiatives and referendums appearing on the ballot have higher voter turnout, especially in midterm elections. However, actual initiative campaigns are rarely measured. Drawing on national survey data and state contextual factors, we use a multilevel modeling strategy to test whether Americans are more likely to vote in recent midterm and presidential elections when there is increased spending in initiative and candidate campaigns, as well as more frequent use of direct democracy. The research includes a number of methodological advancements from earlier work on turnout and direct democracy (including a control for endogeneity) by restricting the analysis to initiative states only. The analysis suggests initiative campaigns not only increase individual level turnout but also especially benefit the lower educated.
  • ballot initiatives and referenda • direct democracy • voter turnout • mobilization • electoral campaigns • inequality
Publication Date
January, 2009
Citation Information
Caroline J. Tolbert, Daniel C. Bowen and Todd Donovan. "Initiative Campaigns: Direct Democracy and Voter Mobilization" American politics research Vol. 37 Iss. 1 (2009)
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